Reflections on True Mother’s City of Refuge Speech

By Tyler Hendricks                    

In her April 6, 2019 speech at the City of Refuge Church in Gardena, CA, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon made significant statements on environmentalism, the ethics of nations, the use of force, and her course as the True Mother. Her speech has raised some discussion among Unificationists. Here is my understanding of her statements.

Environmentalism

I categorize environmentalism under what Divine Principle (Ch. 1) calls the third blessing, through which “the entire universe becomes yet another good object partner giving joy to God.” No one can deny that we are not caring for the earth as much as we should. We certainly are not achieving the oneness with nature that Principle considers our original birthright. And indeed cultural Marxists exploit the problem, subverting young people’s love of nature for political purposes. Which means those young people, including some of our second generation, stop listening to someone who is complacent about the environment.

So, first of all, Mother has to assure those young people that she agrees with their concerns; she’s with them that climate change and ocean pollution are issues. Then idealists on the left say, great, this woman gets it. But then look at True Mother’s solution. It has nothing to do with carbon credits and bans on plastic straws.

Here’s what she said: “We should attend God, the Lord of creation, live in accordance with the eternal principles of creation and find the right solution.”

And then she went on to reject the view that science has all the answers. In fact, she stated that blind faith in science is actually part of the problem. She stated we are not here to live convenient lives, and that God and the marriage Blessing are part of the solution:

“What I am saying is that we should live in line with the principles originally established by God. …Blessed couples who received the Blessing today, you would not want your beloved children to live in an even worse environment than today’s. Isn’t that so?”

True Mother steered the conversation toward the headwing solution: attendance of God and the marriage Blessing.

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The Mission of the New Truth

By Tyler Hendricks

Rev. Sun Myung Moon spoke on both sides of many matters.

He considered God to appear as Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, but addressed Him only as Heavenly Father.

He referred to himself and his wife, Hak Ja Han Moon, as being free from original sin and as having original sin.

Father Moon consistently proclaimed that the wholesale success of his movement was imminent and yet spoke as if successive 40 year courses were inevitable.

He referred to Mother Moon as queen of the universe and as hopeless without him.

Through database searches of Rev. Moon’s speeches, Unificationist scholar Dr. Jin Choon Kim found numerous examples of divergent statements. On some topics, Father Moon’s words are 100% consistent. On others the divergence is 95% to 5%, 80% to 20%, and as much as 50%-50%.

Rev. Moon’s words provide plenty of citations to justify the claims of any number of sects to be his sole orthodox successors and to excommunicate those who choose to follow his words that justify the opposite position.

The Introduction to Exposition of Divine Principle states this exact dynamic provided justification for Christians to divide into hundreds of denominations. “Divergent interpretations of such symbolic and metaphorical Bible verses have inevitably led to the division of Christianity into denominations.” (p. 11) It provides both an analysis and a solution to this problem.

Analysis of the Problem

One, scriptures are susceptible to diverse interpretations. In the Bible, the cause Exposition of Divine Principle points to is that it is written in parables and symbols which can be interpreted in different ways. Father Moon’s words also are susceptible to diverse interpretations.

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Predestination of the Only-Begotten Daughter

tp-wedding_lucid

By Tyler Hendricks

14_12_CfE_Tyler 10.55.08 pm“Who am I?” Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon opened her talk. She was at East Garden on December 4, speaking to some 300 teenagers and young adults. Not waiting to sort out their replies, she answered her own question: “I am the only-begotten daughter.”

She then explained that Adam and Eve had a growing period in which to fulfill their responsibility and, as a result, receive the marriage Blessing. But they became self-centered and never received that Blessing. She told her listeners: “It is the same with you. Your essence is True Parents. Your responsibility is to receive the Blessing.”

Mother Moon’s talks such as this have stimulated much discussion of the term “only-begotten daughter.” Some consider it a “heresy.” A well-known Korean lecturer is reported to have said, “The Only-begotten Daughter as Mother describes it does not exist.” The article citing him states that Mother Moon describes Only-begotten Daughter as “being born without Original Sin.”  I think this does not do justice to her self-presentation as only-begotten daughter. In this article I explain why.

Biblical and Historical Context

“Only-begotten” does not appear in contemporary Bible translations. And among older translations, by far the most influential that adopts it is the King James Version. There it appears exclusively in the writings of the Apostle John. (John 1:14; 1:18; 3:16; 3:18; cf. 1 John 4:9)

But John is not insistent; he also calls Jesus “the firstborn”:

“Jesus Christ …is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.” (Rev. 1:4-5)

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Want To Be a Minister?

Silohuette of Preacher

By Tyler Hendricks

14_12_CfE_Tyler 10.55.08 pmThe path to professional ministry would seem to be simple, but it is very complex — for the aspirant and for the community they hope to serve.

In order to ordain their spiritual leaders, i.e., pastors, religious institutions have to: define their purposes, their beliefs, their standards of practice for members as well as leaders, put all this in writing, and set up methods to inculcate these things. Methods include general pastoral care and education as well as pastor preparation, measuring people’s performance in achieving them, and helping people overcome their failures in achieving them.

One indicator of the difficulties involved is that our Unification community, after over 60 years of formal existence and spreading throughout the world, has no ordination. What does one do to become a Unificationist pastor? What do pastors do? Do we even want pastors? Should pastors get paid? How do we assign a pastor to a congregation? By election or appointment? We have no formal or consistent answers to these questions.

Another indicator is the fact that it was not until now that we in the U.S. have set forth publically what it means to be a Unificationist, what is unique about us, what is our position on smoking and drinking, abortion, religious freedom, and many such matters (to get involved in this discussion, see the PDF “FAQ” on the FFWPU-USA site).

From the viewpoint of human history, this is not surprising. It takes religions a long time to decide these things. And there is a very compelling reason: in reality, for religions that last, the answers to these questions are not decided by theory, but by practice. We could call it “form follows function,” or use the traditional saying, “necessity is the mother of invention.”

What follows is a progress report on how this is working for our Unificationist community here in the U.S.

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The Responsibility of True Parents’ Successors

pass-the-torch

By Tyler Hendricks

14_12_CfE_Tyler 10.55.08 pmTrue Parents’ successors have the honor and responsibility to own and build Cheon Il Guk. As I studied some of True Father’s words on the subject, including statements going back to the early 1980s, three points emerged: One, that we all are successors; two, the notion of a central successor; and, three, the central successor’s qualifications and responsibilities.

First, God calls us all to be successors. True Parents come to lift us up into a relationship of parent-child with them. God and True Parents, like all parents, want their children to surpass them. Through the Holy Marriage Blessing, all blessed couples have the position of True Parents’ direct children.[1] The True Parents’ physical children, the True Children, and the blessed couples in general, are like Jacob and Esau, twins in True Mother’s womb, whether physically or sacramentally, in the “realm of the fourth Adam.”[2]  Thus, both True Children and all blessed families are entitled, by fulfilling certain responsibilities, to stand as owners of Cheon Il Guk, successors of True Parents.

I discern four such responsibilities that apply to all successors. Successors are to honor True Parents and True Children, who embody the ideal of God’s substantial Word, for it is through the reality of their oneness as a True Family of three generations that Satan’s accusations are overcome and all humankind may enter God’s direct dominion. On that foundation, all successors are to receive the Blessing, bless others, and work together to restore nations.

The Central Successor’s Responsibilities

Given Unification teachings regarding lineage, and human nature itself, most members have high expectations that the founders’ children will model God’s ideal. Father Moon supported this through statements such as, “The sons and daughters of Jesus’ direct lineage would have become the Popes.”[3] And Unification teachings lead us to expect the appointment of a central successor, as a couple, from among the 14 children.

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Thoughts on Sanctuary Church, Revisited

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By Tyler Hendricks

14_12_CfE_Tyler 10.55.08 pmMy recent video, “Thoughts on Sanctuary Church,” elicited affirmative responses as well as detailed criticism and ad hominem comments. I’m grateful for it all and want to summarize “Thoughts” and the main criticisms, and respond to the latter.

I began with the logic of Sanctuary’s story, which Dr. Richard Panzer, Sanctuary’s president, affirmed as accurate: True Parents are doing fine; True Parents appoint Hyung Jin Nim’s couple to be their heir; True Father dies and True Mother goes off track; centering on True Father, Hyung Jin Nim’s couple restores True Parents.

I pointed out the error in this logic: If True Mother went off track, then True Parents weren’t really doing fine; if True Parents weren’t really doing fine, the appointment of Hyung Jin Nim’s couple is not valid, which means he’s not the heir of anything.

I understand why some don’t agree with the first point. By “doing fine” I meant the perfection of their marital love as True Parents, from which the Divine Principle says we cannot fall, because to believe otherwise would deny the omnipotence of God, the perfectibility of goodness itself, and the perfection of God (Exposition of the Divine Principle, p. 42). Simply put, true love is eternal, so if True Mother has gone off track, then her love was temporary, and she and True Father did not have true love. This means they weren’t True Parents. True Parents is not people as much as it is a relationship.

I then worked backward from the Sanctuary premise that the appointment is valid. If so, then True Parents were fine; if True Parents were fine, then True Mother was fine; if True Mother was fine, then she would not go off track; if True Mother is not off track, then she is True Parents; if True Mother is True Parents, then Hyung Jin Nim has to attend her; if Hyung Jin Nim is not attending her, then he is off track.

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Evangelical, Congregational and Blessed

TF speaks outside 1960

By Tyler Hendricks

14_12_CfE_Tyler 10.55.08 pmOur Unification movement exemplifies two church models, and serves as a case study of their effect on church growth. Church growth has regular causes that can be discerned by examining churches that are growing. Church decline also has regular causes that can be discerned by examining churches that are shrinking. The defining characteristic of most growing churches is that they have one mission, that being evangelism, and congregational polity. Most shrinking churches have multiple missions and hierarchical polity.

For a church to have an evangelical mission means the church is organized to proclaim the good news (the “evangel”) and to bring others to salvation through it. Congregational polity means that the members of the local church own and govern the local church.

To have a hierarchical polity means that pastors are employed and directed by a central authority. Through the pastors, the central authority, which owns all properties, guides the planning, schedule, strategies, style, etc., for each congregation. Such churches tend to have multiple missions and pay little attention to evangelism.

Thesis #1: The Unification Church grew when and where it had an evangelical mission and congregational polity

Founding of the church: The Unification Church grew from one spirit-led man starting a local congregation. The church had an evangelical mission and congregational polity. He taught and preached a God-centered biblical vision for world transformation. He prayed incessantly. His mission began with a vision of Jesus; people who joined testified that it was the spirit world that led them to him. He loved and served others to bring them into his church, sleeping and eating little, giving up his family, worrying not about physical needs. That was how it started.

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Cain and Abel Children: A Unification Parable

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, The Return of the Prodigal Son, Spanish, 1617 - 1682, 1667/1670, oil on canvas, Gift of the Avalon Foundation

by Tyler Hendricks

14_12_CfE_Tyler 10.55.08 pmIn the “Cain children” vs. “Abel children” dichotomy, I’m of a mind that the primary category is “children.” Looking at Cain and Abel, the parents would say: “These are all my children. Some are older, some younger, some look more like me, some less, but we are one family and they all receive my inheritance.” Thus I apply the family paradigm from the parents’ viewpoint, rather than as we usually do, from a sibling (rivalry) point of view. I’m also of a mind to bring out the virtues and responsibilities of Cain more than usual.

The parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) is instructive. Here, Abel took the inheritance, abandoned his father and wasted it in a self-centered life. But the spark of God within him woke him up; he realized his abject status as a sinner and returned to his father, ready to be a servant of servants. Based on this condition, the father bestowed blessings upon him. On the other hand, Cain served his father faithfully, building up the father’s fortune. He did not share the father’s willingness to bless Abel. But the father reached out to him and told him that all that was the father’s belonged to him and encouraged him to rejoice.

This reminds me of our relationship with True Parents over the years. We Cain children worked so hard, fundraising, witnessing, teaching, sleeping little, having nothing. We in New York would rise well before dawn on Sunday mornings to attend True Father’s sermons at Belvedere, only to get chastised for being sinners. I would think to myself, “But Father, we’re your children who are here attending you! What about those who didn’t even come here?” In the back of my mind was, “Father, you should be praising us, and chastising those who didn’t come.”

I was wise enough to realize a bit of what was going on, and now I’d like to expand upon that. We were True Parents’ Cain children. There’s one important distinction between their Cain children and Abel children: the Cain children were a lot older and so could serve as object partners doing the work with True Parents. We were young to Father, but to the Abel children, the biological children, we were a bunch of old folks running around exhausting ourselves in a missionary life, often joyful, sometimes resentful, but obediently lining up to bow in front of their parents. We had so many complicated feelings toward True Parents, and the Abel children, whose feelings for True Parents were simpler at first, could see it and feel it.

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The Heart of a Dreamer: Father’s Vision for UTS

TP & 3 Presidents

By Tyler Hendricks

tyler_hendricks_edited-1I believe that True Father did not establish Unification Theological Seminary primarily for the sake of educating Unificationist ministers. Of course, Father’s mind is 360 degrees and ministry preparation was part of the picture, but he already had fine ministry preparation with the workshop system. The main purpose for UTS, as far as I am aware, was that of teaching our leaders about what the other religions believe, so that we could, 1) have intelligent and respectful dialog; 2), help them succeed in their ministry by introducing True Parents’ spirit and truth; and 3), build coalition with them that would eventually create the foundation for what Father later came to call the spiritual “upper house” of the United Nations.

I won’t rehearse the history of that plan and the role of UTS in it, but simply say that even in failing to reach the heights of Father’s vision, UTS accomplished an incredible feat, and that the vision is still worthy and true and capable of achievement, and that its achievement—at least until the people God has prepared to partner in it (e.g., the UN) do so — would cost our movement a huge amount of money.

In the latter years of my UTS presidency, I outlined to the UTS Board of Trustees this interfaith path, including the broad stroke path that UTS was designed to take. The Board liked the path, and said to follow it. Unfortunately, they didn’t pay enough attention to the price tag (which I actually low-balled).

I also informed the Board that if they did not want to undertake that expense, there is an alternative path, and that is to learn from the grassroots Christian start-up churches and how they are educating their pastors. I’m talking about the Vineyard movement, the Calvary Chapel faith movement, Saddleback, Willow Creek, and something that emerged since then, Nelson Searcy’s Renegade Pastors; and there are many others. These churches are educating hundreds of thousands of pastors around the world, in-house and online, at very low cost. I advised the Board that going online would require care in terms of preserving the accreditation, but that the industry is changing.

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